Clouds Over Crater Rim
Clouds above the rim of "Endurance Crater" in this image from NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity can remind the viewer that Mars, our celestial neighbor, is subject to weather. On Earth, clouds like these would be referred to as "cirrus" or the aptly nicknamed "mares' tails." These clouds occur in a region of strong vertical shear. The cloud particles (ice in this martian case) fall out, and get dragged along away from the location where they originally condensed, forming characteristic streamers. Opportunity took this picture with its navigation camera during the rover's 269th martian day (Oct. 26, 2004).
The mission's atmospheric science team is studying cloud observations to deduce seasonal and time-of-day behavior of the clouds. This helps them gain a better understanding of processes that control cloud formation.
Image Credit: NASA/JPL
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